5. To what extent do you agree with the directive to “measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so” (Galileo Galilei)? Answer with reference to the human sciences and one other area of knowledge.

November TOK prescribed title #5 starts with “To what extent do you agree…” This means that you should strongly consider both sides of the “directive.”  It is perfectly fine to write a TOK essay on #5 where in some areas you agree and some you disagree with the “directive.”  In fact, if you make solid in-depth arguments on both sides you may show a better understanding than if you were to write a one-sided essay.

The phrase “measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so” presumes that measurement is a key element in the production and acquisition of knowledge.  Since November 2022 TOK essay prescribed title #5 starts with “To what extent” you do not have to agree with the prescribed title. 

There are other areas that can be vastly improved with measurement and improvements in measurement methodology.  The analysis and interpretation of a measurement is also a key factor in ensuring that the measurement is productive.

Some AOKs rely heavily on measurements and the data from the measurements can indicate whether a line of research, a medicine, or a building site is valid or not.  Other AOKs may use different kinds of measurements for different purposes.  Within each AOK there are also vastly different ways that measurements are taken and used. 

Measurement is important but it does does not guarantee accuracy or validity.  Measurements can be performed incorrectly, and even accurate measurements can be misinterpreted or misused. 

If you choose November 2022 TOK essay prescribed title #5 make sure that you look carefully for a solid set of specific examples that have in-depth links to both sides of the measurement debate.